I don’t have much experience with Brainwavz’s products, I ever tested their infamous Brainwavz HM5 which is a large closed back headphone, with relatively good sound signature in that era, although I don’t particularly fond into it but during one audiophile gathering with my buddy, I am pleased with what Brainwavz capable to offer in the price range.
I bet that after the Hm5, I believe newest creation from Brainwavz should create more attention, the Brainwavz S5 that I will review today, and little brother which just released S0. They are not high end IEM for sure, nor they are heavily priced too, Brainwavz S5 is just retailed at 129USD (with 99USD current street price), this is also golden price tag for people who are just entering audiophile world, product category that we named it as ‘audiophile world entry key’, where audiophiles start their journey.
Before I start any review here, I would like to state that the ‘war’ in this price range had never been so complicated before, the competitors are going wildly and there are also too many new manufacturers out there. Many manufacturers put a lot of hard works in this price range and doing real good. Brainwavz better to be doing extremely good to put those competitors down.
When I first received the IEM in hand, I am very impressed with the design. S5 is designed to be weared over ear, this design generally is very good in term of passive noise isolating and always felt secured in ear, both of these advantages have been proven through my extensive use, not only it is secured well in my ears, but also isolate noise very well, I will have to take it down to hear what my friends were talking to me, the fit is very comfortable too, thanks to the not so heavy body, I never feel tired when I am wearing it, I would say Brainwavz has done something real good in basics for making S5.
Build quality is very good and I believe this is the same as long as durability is concerned. Brainwavz has make a good tension release zone at the jack and both the left right IEM body where should withstand some reckless use. In normal use I doubt that there will be any durability issue.
For those who are reading my writing from the very beginning knew that I am not a fan of flat cable, one of the reason is flat cable often add more weight and will bring down the comfortable level of IEM especially if you working with it, second is the microphonic problem. I have tested both of these issues with real life usage and confirm existence of this problem, but not that bad and definitely not the worst. However, we can’t deny that flat cable also strengthen the durability of cable and will not tangled easily, so I think this is a worthy trade off.
Packaging wise is very impressive. S5 is bundled together with several sets of different size ear tips, and a set of Comply Foam ear tips, which is not cheap in their own, impressive. Besides, there is also a good quality 3.5mm to 6.25mm converter jack. What I am really going to praise is brainwavz packed all of them together in a good quality storage case that has window compartment for different size of tips and is hard enough to withstand any external pressure. I believe there are better storage cases out there, but for something came as bundled I am really impressed. The bundled accessories are all very practical in everyday use.
Although I have paired it with my Nokia Lumia 925 and listened to it extensively, review is wrote when paired with iFi Audio iDSD and Dell PC as source.Brainwavz S5 has
First of all I am very happy to report that Brainwavz S5 is a very enjoyable IEM and has a lot of fun factor. It is a warm (Slightly) and quite laid back in its sound signature. Treble is very comfortable to listen at, even slightly dark at time, thus treble never really disturb you when you listening to music, but I won’t call it any term such as ‘recessed’ though, it retained the portion nicely. Midrange is very flat and even slightly recessed when you first listen to it, but after some extensive listening, I found out that it stay behind but is clear and ‘present’ enough, so it is clearly not recessed but it stay behind a little, don’t worry, nothing really break the deal, mid is clear and luckily is not thin, nothing break the enjoyment of music. For example when I play Jennifer’s We take Manhattan (Famous Blue Raincoat album), the bass is hitting, treble is well presented (in a good way), vocal is clear and sounded nice, I can hear the instruments clearly, everything sounded so good!
The bass, oh yeah the bass. I have to write a new paragraph for the bass alone. The bass is generally deep, hard-hitting and fast. I love the bass response of it, I think this is one of the main strength of it Brainwavz can bring to pawn its competitors. Play tracks like Kenny G’s Sax O Loco (From Rhythm and Romance album), I am sure that you will appreciated the pace and rhythm Brainwavz S5 canbring to you, needless to say that instrument and detail level is up to standard. How good is the bass? Play rock song from Daughtry, ‘used to’ (From Daughtry Deluxe Edition Album), the bass is well presented here and never bloated the music. If you are looking for a clear sound representation like old school Beyerdynamic this is not for you I am sure, the sound is generally towards music enjoyment. For rock tracks though, I found that treble might be a bit harsh sometime, bear in mind that I am not a rock person though so sounded harsh to me might not sounded harsh to you, I understand that for those who love rock always searches more energy in treble.
Soundstage wise it is above average, you will not think that it sounded compact neither compressed. If you are coming from some average IEM or budget line, you might even appreciated how wide and spacious soundstage of S5 is. Not open air type of spacious but it is indeed good for an IEM, at this kind of price tag.I don’t have any issue for S5’s positioning and imaging performance, it performed at least average or beyond average, for the price you pay for it, you can’t complain. One might think that soundstage size is the main concern, but my concern is how it sounded, wide but hollow sounded is not a good/enjoyable soundstage to my ears, at least S5 make them sounded fill-over, nothing is empty throughout the space.
Detail level is good too, respectable. Detail level of S5 is not those you can use for studio monitoring purpose though, but it is good enough, at least I don’t feel like missing some detail from my music, to be fair, I don’t think I have discovered any new world with S5, can’t blame though because I am hearing them with more expensive gear at home, one thing for sure though, S5 portrayed detail level nicely.
I personally really think that Brainwavz S5’s biggest selling point is its musicality and fit. The over ear design give good fit and isolate really well, so most of the time I don’t need to turn the volume that loud to listen all the detail, this help you listen better too and conserve your ear.
Brainwavz S5’s strength and what it still can improved
THINGS THAT CAN BE IMPROVED
Brainwavz S5 is a true performer and I am sure Brainwavz has made something to slay down the competitors. I am not saying that S5 is the best in the price range, especially the midrange reproduction is a weakness that I can’t denied, not because of it is not good but competitors has better mid. However, in another point I can’t think of another IEM in this price range that can bring as much enjoyment of music as S5 does. I can’t stop listening to S5 and I even test S5 longer than usual to confirm this, now I can tell you loudly S5 is a very competitive product, as long as you seek musicality next to nothing else. If you are a midrange lover you won’t be disappointed too but you can find better one out there. For those who appreciated musicality, Brainwavz S5 is a Godsend, and I said it.